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HOME WINNING STREAK SNAPPED, MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS TO 1ST PLACE EASTERN WASHINGTON, 59-54

HOME WINNING STREAK SNAPPED, MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS TO 1ST PLACE EASTERN WASHINGTON, 59-54

SACRAMENTO -- Eastern Washington used a 14-0 second half run to erase an eight-point deficit, and held on late in a 59-54 win over Sacramento State on Saturday evening inside the Nest.

Sacramento State had a one-point halftime lead and began the second half on a 14-7 run to take a team-high eight-point lead (42-34)  with 12:13 to play. However, Eastern Washington responded with a 14-0 run to turn an eight-point deficit into a six-point lead (50-44) at the 7:23 mark. The Eagles would later push the lead to as large as large nine points (53-44) before a 7-0 Hornet run got Sacramento State back within, 53-51, with 5:26 remaining.

The Hornets would get no closer as Sacramento State had one look to tie, trailing, 55-53 with 1:45 left but a Joshua Patton contested jumper in the paint fell off the mark. The Hornets connected on just 4-of-18 shots over the final 13:30 of the game and Eastern Washington connected on a pair of free throws with four seconds left to put things out of reach and provide the 59-54 final score.

The loss was the first of the season at home for Sacramento State which dropped to 11-8 overall and 4-6 in the Big Sky. The Hornets had been 8-0 inside the Nest prior to this evening, marking just the second time in program history the team won its first eight home games. Entering this evening, Sacramento State had held a lead for 90 percent of its minutes inside the Nest.

Eastern Washington, which won its fifth straight game, remains in first place in the league standings with a 14-6 overall record and 7-2 mark in league. The Eagles have won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the two teams, including four straight in the Nest.

The Hornets held a 28-27 halftime lead, but were outscored 32-26 in the second half. Eastern Washington entered the game as the nation's second best scoring team (83.4 ppg) and was held to a season-low 59 points. In addition, the Hornets limited the Eagles to 37% (19-51) shooting from the field. However, EWU went 7-of-17 (41%) from the 3-point line and 14-for-15 (93%) from the free throw line while holding a sizable advantage in second chance points (15-3). Both teams finished with 32 rebounds, and nine on the offensive glass, but the Eagles did a better job of making the Hornets play for second chance opportunities.

Sacramento State shot 40% (21-53) from the field, but just 3-for-15 from long range and 9-of-12 from the charity stripe. The Hornets, who are last in the Big Sky in scoring, have scored under 60 points in four of the last five games.

Center Joshua Patton led the Hornets with 11 points, six rebounds and a block while guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa finished with 10 points and five assists. Five Sacramento State players had at least seven points, including Ethan Esposito who finished with eight points and seven rebounds.

Bryce Fowler posted seven points and four rebounds, Chibueze Jacobs seven points, and Osi Nwachukwu finished with four points, four rebounds and a pair of steals, but did have four fouls in just 16 minutes of play. Nwachukwu finished the game a +9 in plus/minus, but foul trouble limited his minutes. Point guard Brandon Davis added five points, three rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals.

For Eastern Washington, the team's leading scorer Jacob Davison had 23 points, four rebounds and three assists. Of the Hornets' 15 fouls, it was Davison that drew seven of those whistles.

At the midway point of the Big Sky season, Sacramento State has 10 conference games left until the Big Sky Tournament in Boise, Idaho, on March 11-14. Of those 10 games, five will come at home, including Monday vs. Idaho at 7:05 p.m. Tonight's game began a stretch that will see the Hornets play four times over an eight-day span.